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2023 AFCON Open amid colorful celebration

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A colorful spectacle of dance, songs and light made up the bulk of the opening ceremony of the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Saturday at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Abidjan.

In a fresco of several scenes staged by the Cote d’Ivoire choreographer Georges Momboye, hundreds of extras in colorful outfits provided a tour of the cultural wealth of Cote d’Ivoire, including the Boloi of northern Cote d’Ivoire, the Temate of the west and the Zaouli of the center-west.

On the podium hung large representations of the legendary Goli and Senoufo masks, respectively from the center and the north of Cote d’Ivoire.

In a mix of tradition and modernism, the show continued with renowned artists including Josey from Cote d’Ivoire and Franco-Congolese Dadju and Tayc.

Illustration of this modernism, the presence in the background of the podium of the Abidjan cable-stayed bridge, the fruit of China-Cote d’Ivoire cooperation.

Another symbol appeared in the decor, the Akwaba statue at the Abidjan International Airport roundabout, synonymous with unity and cohesion between peoples.

There also featured a performance of the song “Akwaba” – meaning “Welcome” in the Akan language – the official anthem of the AFCON, composed by the group Magic System, with the participation of Nigeria’s Yemi Alade and Egypt’s Mohamed Ramadan.

In this festive atmosphere, the AFCON mascot, an elephant named Akwaba, sat among the extras and did not go unnoticed with his orange jersey, green shorts, football boots and traditional Akan hat.

In a speech, Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara insisted on the legendary hospitality of the country, calling to “offer the world the best of Africa, an Africa that wins” through the celebration of talent and genius of young Africans, before CAF President Patrice Moetsepe officially declared the tournament open.

The 34th Africa Cup of Nations ends on February 11.

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